On March 9, the Octagon staff learned that the online edition had been nominated as a finalist for the 2016 Online Pacemaker Award chosen by the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA).
According to the NSPA website, “The finalist websites contained a good mix of stories, photography, videos and audio, as well as podcasts.”
Prize-winning sites also incorporated social media well, they said.
And the judges said the winning sites had “compelling content – stories that made the reader want to stay and keep reading the site, which can be a tricky feat to accomplish.”
The Pacemaker is considered scholastic journalism’s most prestigious award, so senior Zoë Bowlus, online editor-in-chief, was very excited when she heard the news.
“It really just makes all the hours and late nights spent writing, posting stories and editing the website worth it,” Bowlus said.
“I couldn’t be more pleased that all of our hard work had very positive results.”
Octagon adviser Patricia Fels was also very pleased.
“I’m incredibly excited because the online edition isn’t that old,” Fels said.
“It took years and years for the print edition to be a Pacemaker finalist, but the online edition is really only three years old.”
“I give tremendous credit to online editors-in-chief Ryan Ho (2013-14), Aishwarya Nadgauda (2014-15), and Zoë (2015-16). In addition, senior Keaton Ochoa dramatically redesigned the site this year, even though he isn’t a member of our staff.”
Both Ho and Nadgauda emailed Fels, expressing their happiness and congratulations.
Ho remembered that a couple years ago when Fels was considering ending the online edition, he said that even though the website wouldn’t be Pacemaker quality in the near future, it should continue anyway.
“Well, I TAKE THAT BACK!” he wrote in an email.
Nadgauda said she was “super excited,” adding, “Zoë is doing an amazing job!”
The Pacemaker winners will be announced on Saturday, April 15, at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Los Angeles, which the staff will attend.
A list of all the winners and links to their websites is posted here.